Thursday, March 20, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke passes away

The long term health of scientific exploration rests squarely on inspiration. If young people are inspired by science enough to pursue a scientific career, then the brightest minds will be probing the deepest secrets of the universe, instead of chasing the biggest pile of money. The images of Hubble are definitely inspiring, but I'd say that for the last five decades the bigger contributor to scientific inspiration has been science fiction (and it isn't even funded by taxpayers!).

Arthur C. Clarke has been at the cutting edge of science fiction, blending a real understanding of science (he graduated with a physics degree from King's College London) with a fantastic creative imagination. He helped pull science fiction from the literary gutter into the main stream, inspiring both scientists and fellow science fiction writers along the way. The impact of the man on the advancement of space exploration cannot be overstated, as multiple generations grew up reading his novels.

On Tuesday, Mr. Clarke passed away in Sri Lanka, his home since 1956. He was knighted in 1998 by Queen Elizabeth II, and received too many awards to mention. His influence pushing space science forward will continue for the next century, or beyond.

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